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Schools out for summer
Graduations mark end of another year
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Forsyth County News

Commencements
Here is the graduation schedule for local schools:

Tonight
• Horizon Christian Academy, 26 seniors, 6:30 p.m., Creekside United Methodist Church
• Covenant Christian Academy, 14 seniors, 7 p.m., Covenant Christian Academy

Saturday
• Forsyth Central High School, 361 seniors, 10 a.m., Cumming Fairgrounds
• West Forsyth High School, 278 seniors, 7 p.m., Wolverine Stadium

May 26
• North Forsyth High School, 389 seniors, 2 p.m., Arena at the Gwinnett Center
• South Forsyth High School, 487 seniors, 7 p.m., Arena at the Gwinnett Center

May 30
Pinecrest Academy, 33 seniors, Mass at 10 a.m, graduation at 11:30 a.m., Pinecrest Academy

June 5

Forsyth Academy, class size undetermined, 6 p.m., at Lambert High School

Also: Friendship Christian School’s six seniors graduated Thursday night at the school.

Note: Figures approximate. Number of seniors does not indicate total graduates.

Source: School officials

The 2008-09 school year comes to a close today, with faculty and administrators reflecting on the achievement and looking ahead to the next year.

Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans said it’s been a “very, very successful year in spite of the challenges we faced in the economy.”

Evans said the district was met with “one of the most challenging budget years that I have ever seen.”

Another challenge, Evans said, was preparing five new schools for August. After much “behind the scenes work,” he said the district is ready to open classroom doors at the new locations.

“For us to be here in the middle of May, basically ready to go into those schools ... we feel extremely good about that,” Evans said.

For some it is a bittersweet moment, as the district shuffles students and some teachers and administrators to the new campuses.

Chestatee Elementary School Principal Amy Davis is taking the reins at Haw Creek Elementary, which opens in August.

“It’s hard to leave,” Davis said. “It feels like family here.”

Davis said she’s seen much improvement in her six years on the northeastern Forsyth campus.

“We’ve seen gains in test scores,” she said. “We’ve seen teachers do what it takes to help children achieve academically.”

She said this week’s conclusion has been similar to those of previous years.

“Toward the end of the year, you see students who are excited, who have things they’re looking forward to in the next grade, and children who are sad to be leaving their teachers, because they’ve built such close bonds with them and their classroom friends,” Davis said.

Otwell Middle School Principal Steve Miller said the biggest challenge is going to be losing students and staff to the new schools.

“Nobody wanted to leave at first,” Miller said. “There’s just a warm, caring feeling about Otwell that keeps them here.”

South Forsyth High School Principal Jason Branch said it’s challenging any time a school loses students and staff.

“Reshaping our school and our community with the redistricting of another high school, that’s always a challenge,” Branch said.

Overall, it’s been a good year at South.

“From the standpoint of our student successes and our overall school success ... it’s been great this year,” he said.